Installation view: "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe," Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 21–September 1, 2014. Photo: Kris McKay © SRGF

For centuries, Italy’s vast wealth of art and architecture has attracted awed visitors. Anyone of means who wished to be viewed as cultured and cultivated embarked on the obligatory Grand Tour. For aspiring painters, sculptors, and architects, a sojourn in Italy, absorbing the lessons of masterworks, beginning with antiquity and the Renaissance, was long deemed to be an essential part of their training. Even today, artists compete for versions of the Prix de Rome, admittedly for different reasons and with...


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